Present perfect tense – finished versus up to now time
Present perfect tense – finished versus up to now time

There have been many different attempts to explain the difference between the past simple and present perfect tenses to learners of English. I have tried to do this for example in my posts on present perfect basics, Present perfect tense vs Past simple or present perfect infographics.

In the textbook New Inside Out pre-intermediate they try to introduce the concept of “finished” and “up to now” time expressions. I think, it is not a bad way to distinguish between the past simple and present perfect tenses.

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[showmyads] According to the textbook, finished times are a the expressions which refer to a period or moments that finished in the past and are not connected to the present (for example, yesterday finished several hours ago and this is not connected to now). On the other hand, up to now time expressions refer to periods which are somehow connected to the present time (for example, today is still going on till this moment).

Then the theory is quite simple. If you use a time expression for finished time, use past simple tense. If you use a time expression for up to now time, use present perfect tense.

Present perfect tense – a mind map

Here you can see the mind map which explains the differences between finished times and up to now times.
finished and up to now times
The finished times are just the points on the timeline. On the other hand, the up to now times are connected to the present moment.

Present perfect tense – games

In the first activity your task is to divide the times into two categories. On the first slide tick all the expressions for finished times and on the second tick all the expressions for up to now times. If you are successful you will get an opportunity to play the game Hot race.
Present perfect tense – quiz and Hot race
In the second game your task is to choose the correct option and then if you are successful you should shoot all the bad ducks.
Present perfect tense – On target

English Learning Magazine

At our sister site englishlearningmagazine.com we have published a new text on Prague. There is a text and a quiz to check your comprehension. It is mobile phones friendly, so give it a try.

Infinitive of purpose
Infinitive of purpose

This is one of the easiest grammar points for the Czech students because in their mother tongue there exists a structure which is similar to infinitive of purpose. Because of this, I am not going to spend too much time and energy on this grammar point.

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[showmyads] There is just a mind map explaining and demonstrating the infinitive of purpose and a game where you can practise the grammar.

Infinitive of purpose – mind map

Infinitive of purpose is used if you want to say why you did or do something.
Infinitive of purpose - mind map

Infinitive of purpose – a game

In the following game you have to match the beginning and the end of the sentence. Then you have to rewrite the first sentence using the infinitive of purpose. If you pass the test you will have a chance to play the game Speedway racing. I have managed 6,732 points. Will you be better than me?

Infinitive of purpose – quiz and game
There is just one game this time as I feel that this grammar is very easy and you do not need to practise it a lot. If you feel differently leave a comment and if there are a lot of comments demanding more games and quizzes I will gladly add them.

The environment vocabulary for intermediate learners
The environment vocabulary for intermediate learners

The environment is one of the most frequently discussed topics in the world. However, to be able to speak about this topic you need some basic vocabulary. In this post I try to introduce some words related to the topic of Environment. Later you can practise the new words in games.

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In this post on you can find a video presentation of all the words given here:

urban
sewerage system
green
nature reserve
fossil fuels
smog
global warming
greenhouse effect
rural
endangered species
go off
die out
run out of
give off
cut down
bring out
clear up
throw away

Environment vocabulary – video

Here is a video presentation of the vocabulary connected with the environment.

Environment vocabulary – mind map

Once you know the words, try to divide them into the following mind map.

Environment vocabulary mind map

Environment vocabulary – games

As it is holiday over here, I have had a lot of time and I have created several games to practise the vocabulary.
The first game is a simple quiz. Your task is to match the words and definitions, and then complete the sentences with the new words. If you pass the quiz you can play the game called Angry Finches as long as you like.
Environment vocabulary – quiz

The second game is called Reaction and your task is to complete the sentences with the missing words and then click on the ugly frog as quickly as possible.

Environment vocabulary – Reaction game

The third game is a dictation game. Listen to the sentences and if you write them correctly you will be given a chance to play the game called Hot race.

Environment vocabulary – Dictation

The last game is just loosely connected to the topic. It is called Reaction and your task is to write the adjectives of the given words. If you create the adjectives correctly you will play the game Reaction. Wait till the ugly frog appears and then click on it as quickly as you can.

Environment vocabulary – Adjectives
Town vocabulary
Town vocabulary

In this post I would like to introduce about 20 new words connected with towns. These words are neccessary if you want to speak about the place where you live or stay.

The vocabulary is for elementary and pre-intermediate students and it covers different basic features which can be found in towns and cities.
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[showmyads] This post contains a video with the correct pronunciation and example sentences. Then there is a mind map to help you organise the vocabulary and learn it. In the last part there are several games to give you an opportunity to practise the town vocabulary.

Town vocabulary – video

Watch the video and repeat the words you hear and see. Try to understand the example sentences and later try to repeat them too:

If you feel that you need to practise the words, watch the video several times.

Town vocabulary – mind map

Now you should try to complete the following mind map with all the words from the video. The words are listed in the bottom right corner of the mind map:
town vocabulary for elementary students mind map

Town vocabulary – games

The first game will test your vocabulary knowledge. There are several quizzes and then, if you succeed, you can play a game. The game is called Hot race.
Town vocabulary – quizzes and games
Many of my students feel that listening is the most difficult skill. Therefore, I have prepared the following dictation activity. You will hear several sentences and your task is to write the sentence you hear. If you are successful, you will get a chance to play the game Rock, scissors and paper. (Of course, you can skip the game, if you do not want to play it. Just click on the NEXT button and you will get another dictation.)
Town vocabulary – dictation
Must and Should for beginners
Must and Should for beginners

This post deals only with the basic usage of the modal verbs SHOULD and MUST. I have recently written a post on Modal verbs. This post was aimed at intermediate students and it demonstrated the usage and meaning of all the modal verbs in present and past tenses.

You can find here a graphical presentation of the usage of the verbs SHOULD and MUST and several completely new games to practise the usage of these verbs.

SHOULD and MUST – mind map

Here is the graphical presentation of the two modal verbs:
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SHOULD and MUST – games

This time there are three different games to practise the two verbs. All the games are completely new and in one case there is more playing than learning.

The first game is called Reaction. Your task is to answer each question by filling in SHOULD or SHOULDN’T. If you answer correctly you have to wait till the frog appears. Once it appears, your task is to click on it as quickly as you can. My record is 18,250. Will you be better?

SHOULD – Reaction game
The second game is the one where you will play more than learn. Your task is to fill in SHOULD or SHOULDN’T. After each correct answer you can play the Hot race. However, if you do not like the game you can skip it by clicking on the NEXT button. My personal best is 1:22 on the first circuit.
SHOULD – Racing game
In the third game you have to complete the sentences with MUST or MUSTN’T. If you complete the whole exercise correctly, you can play the game Rock, Scissors and Paper. Can you beat the computer?
MUST – Rock, scissors and paper

BRITISH COUNCIL – Blog award

Do you find this blog interesting and innovative. Then you can like it at British Council Teaching English Facebook page. Ours is the HOW post.

Thanks for your support.

Easter – a magazine full of texts about Easter
Easter – a magazine full of texts about Easter

Finally, Easter is here. I have been looking for this holiday for weeks and it has arrived. I am really happy.

Last year I and Lynne Blackburn devoted a lot of time to our project called ELM (English Learning Magazine.) We created a full 14 page long magazine about Easter.

The magazine contains two articles about Easter traditions in Great Britain and in the Czech Republic, two stories for elementary students to practise past simple tense, two comics and several puzzles for fun.

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You can download the file here:

ELM – Easter
Modal verbs in present and past tenses
Modal verbs in present and past tenses

Students usually understand the usage of the modals in present tense very quickly. However, when they start speaking about the past, they use the present tense or some non-existent forms, like “musted”.
Here I’ve tried to create a simple overview of all the modal verbs and their usage in present and past tenses. I hope you will find it at least a bit useful.

Modal verbs – mind map

Have a look at this mind map. Notice that the modal verbs are in two colours. The white modal verbs are followed by an infinitive without to and the red modal verbs are followed by past participles. If you still have problems with the past participles please follow the link above or this one, which will take you to quizzes on past participles at our other site English Learning Magazine.
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Modal verbs – games

Once you have understood the explanation, it is time to practise your knowledge in two games on Modal verbs. The first one is called En Garde and your task is to choose the correct modal verb and then hit your opponent.
Modal verbs – En Garde
The second game is called Penalty. Once again you should choose the correct modal verb and then try to score a goal. Will you succeed?
Modal verbs – Penalty

English Learning Magazine

We have started a new site for learners of English. While this site contains short grammar explanations and games to practise the grammar, the new site www.englishlearningmagazine.com contains tests and quizzes to practise English in general. For example, there is a text on Easter and you have to answer comprehension questions and then reconstruct the text.
Or you could practise the names of the plants in a post which contains the video with the names of the plants and three tests. Moreover, you can listen to a song and complete its lyrics.
The whole site is mobile phones friendly (unlike this one, where the games play only on desktops).
Enjoy.

Future tenses – May  and will
Future tenses – May and will

In English there are many ways to speak about future and at the same time there are many grammarians who claim that there is nothing like a future tense in English. I do not want to discuss this issue here, I would only like to present two ways of speaking about future.

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[showmyads] First I will introduce the basic system of future tenses in English according to the speaker’s certainty. The tenses presented at the bottom of the pyramid are the least certain to happen. The tenses at the top of the pyramid are the most certain.

future tenses mind map

And in this post, I would like to deal with the tenses that are at the bottom of the pyramid: MAY/MIGHT and WILL.

MAY/MIGHT and WILL – mind map

First study the following mind map. Notice that MAY/MIGHT does not make questions about the future. Moreover, there do not exist any short forms of the negatives of MIGHT and MAY (no mayn’t or mightn’t.)

May might and will mind map

WILL is the most frequent form used to speak about the future. So if you are in doubt, use WILL. In both cases the verbs used after the words MIGHT/MAY and WILL are always in their basic form (in the infinitive without TO).

MAY/MIGHT and WILL – GAMES

Once you have studied the mind maps and the explanations above, it is time to practise all you have learnt in several games. The first game is called On Target and your task is to choose which word best suits into each gap. If you answer correctly you will be given a chance to shoot the bad ducks. You can shoot a bottle too and get a bonus.
Will and Might – On Target
In the second game you should choose the correct form again and score a basket. Good luck.
Will and Might – Hoop shoot
Comparatives and superlatives in English
Comparatives and superlatives in English

Comparative is used when you want to compare two things. For example one person is tall and the other is short. So you will say: Person A is taller than person B. OR Person B is shorter than person A.
You can see some more examples below in the picture.
comparatives picture

Superlative is used if you want to say that someone is number 1. For example, you can say that Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. There are other examples of the usage of superlatives in the picture:
Superlatives example picture

Grammar explanation – mind map

There are several rules in English how to form comparatives and superlatives. First of all you have to decide whether the adjective is short or long. Short adjectives are those adjectives that have one syllable or that have two syllables and end with “Y”. If the adjective is short you add the ending “-er” for a comparative or “-est” for a superlative. There are several simple rules concerning the spelling which you can find in the mind map below.
If the adjective has two or more syllables and it does not end with “Y” then it is a long adjective and you have to add “more” or “most” in front of the adjective.
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Irregular adjectives

You have to learn the following adjectives.

good – better – the best
bad – worse -the worst
far – futher / farther – the furthest / the farthest
little – less – the least

Games

So now that you understand the rules how to form superlatives and comparatives in English it is time to practice them in games. In the first game your task is to write the adjectives in superlative or comparative form. Be careful about the spelling.
Comparatives and superlatives – Teacher invaders

In the second game you have to complete the sentences with the correct form of the adjective.

Comparatives and superlatives – Penalty
Dates – learn to say the dates and ordinal numbers in English
Dates – learn to say the dates and ordinal numbers in English

To say dates in English is quite simple. However, as there are two ways to do this, students often get confused and mix both of them together. I hope that this post will help them clarify this extremely important area.

Dates – mind map

To be able to say dates in English correctly, it is necessary to know the ordinal numbers. Most of the ordinal numbers are made by adding the ending -th.(If you have a problem with this sound, I strongly recommend this BBC video) However, as always, there are several exceptions to this rule. The rules are explained in ther upper right corner of the mind map.

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Notice the way the change of spelling of the words twenty and thirty. In English there are only two ways to say dates. You can either start with the month and then say THE and the ordinal number, or you can say THE + the ordinal number + OF + the month. Do not mix the two ways!!!

Dates – games

Once you have studied the mind map, it is time to practise everything. In the first game you have a chance to practise all the ordinal numbers. Your task is to shoot all the invaders and from time to time write the given ordinal number. There are all the ordinal numbers which you will ever need to say date.

Ordinal numbers – Teacher invaders

In the second game, called On target, your task is to choose the correct way a given date is said. I believe that if you play this game twice or three times you will learn the correct way to say the dates.

Dates – On target

If you come to this site using a mobile device you might hate the fact that most of the games do not play there. That is why I am trying to add a few HTML5 games to play even there. Here is one of them.

Find the ordinal numbers: Ordinal numbers – Find the words

Dates – conclusion

All the materials in this post have been tested in the classroom and they have been improved on the basis of students’ reactions and suggestions. I hope that you will find them useful. If you study dates, you might need to improve your NUMBERS too. You can find a post on numbers here.

Two Dates – Chapter 4
Two Dates – Chapter 4

Here we go at last! This is the last chapter of the story Two Dates. Are you curious what will happen to Alan, Martha and Bruce. I hope that the ending of the story will surprise you at least a bit and that you will like it.
So, what are you waiting for? Start with the mind map and revive what happened in the previous parts of the story Two Dates. Then translate the vocabulary on the vocabulary branch. This time some of the words are pretty challenging. And once you know the new words start the story video.
In the end answer the comprehension questions in the mind map and discuss your opinions with a partner. Good luck and enjoy the story.

Two Dates – story mind map

Here is the mind map which serves as a worksheet. Complete first the What happened and Vocabulary sections.
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Two Dates story Chapter 4 mind map

Two Dates – the story

Once you have check up all the new vocabulary, it is time to watch the final chapter of the story Two Dates:

Two Dates – games

Now that you know the ending of the story it is time to concentrate on the language. There are two games here to practise the new words. The first one is a Hot Spot quiz and your task is to click on the word whose definition you can see at the top of the page. As the game is in HTML5 it should be viewable on all devices. Enjoy and I hope you will score 100%.

Two Dates – hot spot Html5 quiz

If you are using a mobile phone or an iPad you might be interested in another HTML5 game, you can go to Two Dates Chapter 3 where there is the memory game in HTML5.
The last game is in Flash and it is called Half a minute. Your task is to unjumble the words in 30 seconds. Good luck 🙂

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Half a minute

If you prefer reading the story, here is the text of the fourth chapter:

Two Dates – chapter 4 story

Alan decided to hide out in the library where it was quiet, and he knew most people would not be able to find him. He knew he was not a bad kid. True, he might not have the best qualities, or he might not be the best student, but he knew he was a pretty nice guy. He loved animals, and he loved helping people out. He did not deserve such a cruel treatment, so why were they so mean to him?

The sound of footsteps coming up towards him made Alan look up. Susan stood in front of him, with her arms across her chest.

Alan frowned. “What do you want from me?” he said rudely. “Haven’t you guys had enough?”

The look on Susan’s face softened. “I did not laugh at you Alan. That was mean of Martha.” She smiled gently at him and asked him if she could sit next to him. Alan grudgingly agreed. He was wary. Susan could pretend to be nice and then humiliate him again in front of the whole class just like Martha had.

“Why did she do that?” Alan asked Susan. “What did I do wrong?”

Susan shrugged. “Kids do stupid things. Kids can be mean. Martha is just being immature. Forget about her.”

Alan groaned and hid his face into his hands. “I’ll just switch schools. I can never go back to class again.”

Susan hit Alan lightly on the hand. “You can’t give up just like that!”

Alan sighed. “You don’t understand! Everyone laughs at me. I’ll never be able to go to the dance. I’ll be at home alone again, this year.”

Susan smiled, a little shyly. “Guess what,” she said. Alan looked at her. Susan was beautiful too, in a different way. She had a kind face, and a very sweet smile. “I could be your date for the dance.”

Alan stared at her in shock. After a while, he started laughing. “I won’t fall for that again. You’ll humiliate me too, like Martha did.”

Susan rolled her eyes. “Sure Alan. I skipped class, argued with Bruce in front of the whole class, let Martha yell at me too, defended you and looked for you all over the school, just so that I could humiliate you.”

Susan smiled at him. “C’mon, you can’t let bullies ruin your day. Chin up! The day isn’t over. So will you come to the dance with me?”

Alan hesitated for just a moment, enough for Susan to say, “What? Do you think Martha is prettier than me? Is that why you don’t want to come with me?”

“No!” Alan protested, and before he could even think, he grabbed Susan’s hand tightly. “I will come with you,” Susan smiled and kissed him lightly on his lips.

“See you in the class,” she said and walked away.

Alan smiled.

It was going to be a very different year indeed.

Past perfect tense – explanation and a mind map
Past perfect tense – explanation and a mind map

Last week I was teaching past perfect in one of my classes and suddenly one of the students exclaimed: “Finally we are learning something new.” And by new she meant useful as well.
I am not sure how useful this tense might be for people who want to speak English but it is certainly very handy for students who want to read in English a lot as past perfect tense comes up quite frequently in reading.
Once again, if you want to use and form past perfect tense correctly you need to know past participles.. If you are not sure about them, follow the link and learn them.

Past perfect – mind map

This mind map tries to explain the form and the usage of the past perfect tense.
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Past perfect tense mind map
If you think you understand past perfect tense, it is high time to practise the tense in the following exercises and games.

Past perfect – games

There is just one game to practise past perfect tense. It is called Penalty and to be able to play this game you need to read the following story first:

Jane story to practise past perfect tense

Read the story before you play the game

And now try the game called penalty. Read each sentence and on the basis of the story above decide which tense should be used. If you choose the correct tense you will be given a chance to kick a penalty.

Past perfect – penalty

The GAMEThe game is in Flash
Two Dates – Chapter 3
Two Dates – Chapter 3

Have you been wondering what the big shock for Alan was? The story continues here. Once again you can learn 16 new words and practise them in a game. Then you can check your comprehension with a mind map which once again serves as a worksheet too.
The next chapter of the story Two Dates will be the last one, so do not miss it. It will be published on Wednesday 2nd April 2014.
If you have missed the previous chapters of this story for teenagers, you can find Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here.

Two Dates – a mind map

Here is a mind map which should serve as a worksheet too. First answer the questions about what happened in the previous chapters and then find the new words. Use a dictionary to complete the section.
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I hope you like the story and that you will come back for the last chapter of Two Dates.

Once you know all the words it is time to go to the next section.

Two Dates – a video

Watch the video and complete another part of the mind map (PLOT). You can make this part more difficult for you and switch off the screen and just listen to the story. It is up to you 🙂

Two Dates – a game

This part of our post nearly always contains several games to practise what you have learnt in the post. This time there is just one game. Your task is to practise all the new vocabulary from the story.

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Half a minute

 

Two dates – chapter 2
Two dates – chapter 2

The first chapter of the story Two Dates proved to be quite popular. The story will have 4 chapters in all. Here is the second one.

Two Dates – Mind map

Here is a mind map for the second chapter of the story Two Dates. In my opinion the ideal way to proceed with this post is to learn the vocabulary first. Print out the mind map and then complete the Vocabulary branch.
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Two Dates – games

Once you have studied the vocabulary from the mind map, it is useful to practise the words in the following games. The first one is called simply Memory Game and your task is to remember the words that appear in the center of the screen and then click on them. This game is in HTML 5 so it will play on your mobile phone too. I have managed to get to level 14. Will you be better?

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Memory game

The second game is called Half a minute and your task is to put the words into the correct order in half a minute. By playing these games you should learn the vocabulary from the story Two Dates. Enjoy:

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Half a minute

Two Dates – video

Once you know the vocabulary watch the video here and try to undestand it. Once you finish the video answer the questions in the mind map.

Two Dates – story

If you prefer reading the story as a text, you can read it here:

“Y…yes of course!” He smiled shyly at Martha.

“Great!” Martha flashed another one of her perfect smiles and turned around, returning back to her seat beside Susan. Susan looked back at Alan and smiled, waving at him.

He waved back. He could not believe his luck!

Bruce saw the whole exchange and left Alan alone.

Alan waited nervously for Martha after school, by the gates. He kept a look out for her, and scanned the crowd for a pretty girl in a yellow floral dress. To his surprise, Martha met him in a completely different outfit. She must have changed before meeting him. Yet again, she showed off her perfect figure in skin-tight jeans and a white t-shirt.

“Ready?” Martha held out her hand, waiting for Alan to take it.

He took it without a moment’s hesitation.

They spent the afternoon at the ice cream shop in town. Martha wanted Alan to buy her ice cream, which he did. He did not have much money on him that day, only enough for a single ice cream cone, so he let Martha have it. He watched her polishing off the chocolate-flavored ice cream.

“Alan, how can you not have money with you?” Martha asked surprised and shocked. She rolled her eyes as she took another lick off her ice cream.

Alan blushed. He was not expecting to go out at all, so of course he did not have much money on him.

“That’s okay, I’m not hungry,” he told Martha, watching her eat.

“Okay,” said Martha.

After their ice cream date, Alan walked her home. She did not bother saying goodbye as she walked into the driveway of her house, but Alan waved anyway. He was in love.

He could not stop thinking about her even at home. Alan decided to write Martha a poem. Running eagerly to his computer, he started the word processor and typed.

I never knew about happiness;
I didn’t think dreams
came true;
I couldn’t believe in love,
Until I finally met you.

Alan decided to send it to Martha’s email.

He fell asleep with a bright smile on his face, feeling certain that his fortune had changed at last…

Alan woke up the next morning, happy and cheery that that morning would be the first day to a whole new different Alan. He wondered if Martha had seen his email yet.

When he turned on his computer, he had the biggest shock of his life.

Separable and not separable phrasal verbs
Separable and not separable phrasal verbs

This morning I was preparing a presentation for one of my classes on separable and not separable phrasal verbs and suddenly an interesting pattern appeared. It seems that the fact that the particle is separable can be guessed according to the particle that is used. I am not sure whether it works all the time, but it certainly worked for all the phrasal verbs I had to cover with my lower intermediate class.
The rule is quite simple: If the phrasal verb is transitive, it is not separable if there are two particles or the particles AFTER and WITH are used. If there are other particles, the phrasal verbs are separable.
It might seem really complicated but if you have a look at the mind map bellow, it is quite easy.

Phrasal verbs – mind map

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Phrasal verbs – games

I am glad if you feel that you can understand the grammar now. However, it is more important to be able to use the grammar correctly than to understand it. That is why I have prepared two games for you to check your understanding.
The first game is called Darts. Your task is to choose a correct (or incorrect) option and click on it at the moment you think that you will get most points.

Click Here to play the game – Phrasal verbs – Darts

The second game is called On target. Once again, your task is to choose the correct or incorrect option and then shoot as many bad ducks as you can.

Click Here to play the game – Phrasal verbs – on Target

Phrasal verbs – Conclusion

If you are more interested in the meaning and usage of phrasal verbs you should certainly try our other post on phrasal verbs. It is a short story about Fred and Betty and you will certainly learn some of the verbs there too.
Please, let us know what you think about this new rule.

Two dates – a story about and for teenagers
Two dates – a story about and for teenagers

I don’t know whether anyone will be interested in this mini series called Two Dates. However, as all the research shows that extensive reading helps students improve their English I put it here. There is a short story cut into four parts and a mind map which can serve as a comprehension worksheet.
Moreover, you can learn the vocabulary from the worksheet and there are two games to practise the new vocabulary.

Two Dates – video story – part 1

Watch the video and try to understand the story. If you want to make this exercise slightly more challenging, switch off the picture and just listen.
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Two Dates – mind map

Try to complete the mind map with the information from the story. Use your dictionary and translate the vocabulary. Once you finish the worksheet (mind map) watch the video again and check your answers.
Two Dates chapter 1 mind map

Two Dates – games

In the first game you should write the jumbled word in the correct way. You have always 30 seconds to manage this.

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Chapter 1 – Hoop Shoot

In the second game you should complete each sentence with the correct word.

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Chapter 1 – Hoop Shoot

Two Dates – story

Here is the whole story if you do not want to listen to it and just read it.

Two Dates – Chapter 1

Alan was the wallflower in his class. He was always a little shy and he had no real friends when he was younger, but he always thought that this would change by the time he went to secondary school.

It had not happened.

Alan did not know why he had such a hard time talking to people, especially girls. He had no problem talking to his mother or sisters at home, but when a girl asked him a simple question in school, he would get nervous, and his whole face would become as red as a tomato as he tried to get the words out.

There were two beautiful girls in his class, Susan and Martha. Not only were they beautiful, they were smart and popular too. Susan excelled in English, whereas Martha was better at numbers and was usually the one with her hands up in the air for every question asked during Maths class.

Alan was not popular, neither was he particularly handsome. He was neither the tallest boy in class nor the most athletic one. He did not excel in any subject, and his grades were average at best. This did not help his confidence, and it got weaker year by year.

But that year, Alan wanted to make a difference. He wanted to be noticed, and he wanted to make friends for once. Their school was organizing a dance, and boys usually asked girls out to be their dates.

In the past, Alan usually chose to stay home, watch some television with his parents or play video games. He did not have the courage to ask any girl out, and he certainly did not want to go to the dances alone. He always felt left out when he returned to school the day after, listening to all the fun and good times that his classmates had at the dance. He no longer wanted to be that guy that stayed at home, miserable and alone, without a date.

Alan wanted to be different that year.

He tried by making small talk with the boys. He offered to help Bruce with his homework. Bruce, was a bully, but was also the best looking boy in class. He sneered at him and stood above him. Alan tried to look smaller in his seat. “You? Help me with my homework? Do you think I am stupid and I need some help?”

“No, I just wanted to help,” Alan’s voice sounded strange.

The whole class laughed at him. Alan sank deeper into his seat and pretended not to care. His ears were burning with shame.

He looked down on his homework and tried to ignore the students around him.

From the edge of his vision, Alan saw a pair of pretty shoes. He looked up in surprise at Martha’s face.

Beautiful, popular Martha.

“Hi Alan,” she smiled.

“H…Hi,” he said shyly.

She looked very pretty indeed, showing off her beautiful figure in a lovely yellow floral dress. Her long blond hair was in perfect curls around her sweet face.

“Maybe you could help me. Do you want to go out after school?” Martha asked Alan.

Alan nearly choked. He could not believe what he was hearing. Martha? Beautiful popular Martha was asking him out on a date! What should he say?

Passive voice
Passive voice

To learn Passive voice it is necessary to know the past participles. If you do not know the past participles go to our post on Past participle and learn the irregular verbs first. Once you do not have any problems with past participles, it is time to learn the Passive voice in English.
Passive voice is used if the subject (the thing before the verb) does not do the action described by the verb. Then you have to insert the verb “TO BE” in the correct form in front of the verb in past participle.

Passive – graphical presentation

First there is a mind map describing the form of the passive.
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passive-voice

The second graphic clearly shows the usage of passive voice: Your task is to write two sentences under each picture using present simple tense and past simple. The sentences in the first column should be in active voice and the sentences in the second column should be in passive voice.

passive demonstration

See how passive is formed

Passive – games

Here you have a chance to learn the passive through games. Play each game at least twice and then I think that you will understand the basic rules of passives.
The first game is a simple online quiz. Try to fill in the verbs in the correct form.

Passive – online quiz

The second game is called Hoop shoot. Once again, choose the correct form and then stop the sliders in the center.
Click Here to play the game – Passive Hoop Shoot

Numbers – learn to read and write numbers in English
Numbers – learn to read and write numbers in English

In this post you should learn to read and write numbers in English. To help you with this I have created a simple graphical presentation and three games. I hope you will find them useful and that it will help you learn English better.

Numbers – Mindmap

Have a look at the graphic and read the instructions how to read and write the numbers. Each explanation includes several examples which are listed bellow, next to the planet.
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Learn English numbers

Numbers explanation

Numbers – Games

In the following section you can find several games to practise numbers. The games are ordered from the easiest to the most difficult.
The first game is called Half a minute and your task is to write the number within half a minute. In fractions use a slash (/).

Half a minute – game

The second game is called Teacher invaders and your task is similar to the previous game. You should write the numbers correctly andsave the Earth against the Teacher invaders.

Teacher Invaders – game

The last game is the most difficult one. It is called On Target and you should choose the correct way that a number is written in words. When we played the game at school the students got only 40% of the answers right. Will you be better than them?

On target – game

Conclusion

I hope that by now you know the ways to read and write numbers in English. If you want to learn more English vocabulary, you can try here Animals, Furniture or Plants. Each of the posts contains a video, a mind map and several games to practise the words. Enjoy

Present perfect tense – grammar explanation
Present perfect tense – grammar explanation

Some time ago I presented here an infographics on present perfect tense. This infographic contains a lot of interesting information but when I tried to teach the present perfect tense using it, I found out that I failed. That is why I have prepared this new one where I try to introduce the form and the basic usage of the present perfect tense.
To teach the grammar successfully though the students have to know the past participles. You can learn present past participles here. There is mind map and three games to learn 40 of them.

Present perfect tense – mindmap

This mind map shows the form of present perfect tense and the basic usage.
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present-perfect-tense
The simple explanation of present perfect tense

Present perfect tense – RAP

We have used a rap before to explain the grammar. You can see the explanation of the present simple and present continuous tenses here and the rap presentation of past participles here.
Play this rap after reading the graphics above and it should help you memorise the form and the usage of the grammar.

Present perfect tense – practise

And now it is time to practise the grammar. Try the following video. Watch and use the words on the screen to make a sentence in the present perfect tense. 

You can play other games for example here in our post Present perfect basic.

Conclusion

I hope this post helped you understand the usage and form of the present perfect tense better. You can find more grammar posts on our blog. For example, there is a post on Second conditional or creation of questions starting with HOW. Enjoy.

Second conditional – a simple explanation of a difficult grammar point
Second conditional – a simple explanation of a difficult grammar point

Several weeks ago I published a post on Conditionals. In the post, I tried to cover all the conditionals in one mind map and I think that I succeeded.
However, the post was unnecessarily complicated for lower level students. Therefore I created a simpler one for lower intermediate students who need to know only the second conditional. Here you can see the result.

Second conditional – mind map

The mind map very simply depicts the form and usage of the second conditional.
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Second conditional mind map
Second conditional is that simple 🙂